Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: May 20,
Name: Mr. Lem F.
Post Office: Pauls Valley,
Date of Birth: 1871
Place of Birth:
Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory
Information on Father:
Mother: Josephine Harris, Indian
Information on Mother: born in Chickasaw Nation
Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
My father was killed when I was two years old. He
was part Cherokee Indian. My mother was the daughter of Joe HARRIS, who
was a colonel in the Chickasaw Indian Regiment during the Civil War.
Robert Harris was her brother. He was at one time Governor of the
Chickasaw Nation. After my father's death, my mother married Charley
STEWART and my first remembrance to speak of was when we moved to old Cherokee
Town located on the Washita River, north of where Wynnewood is now.
There was a stage-stand, store and post office, a blacksmith shop, and a
hotel. My step-father ran this hotel.
Old Cherokee Town was headquarters for the U.S.
Marshals. There was also a U.S. Commissioner's office. A man by
the name of KISER was the U.S. Commissioner and Heck THOMAS, John SWANE, Matt
COOK, and Bob NESTER were white U.S. Marshals. Bas REE was a Negro U.S.
Marshal. I have heard Bas Ree say he took his U.S. Marshal's Commission
just to get to kill Dick GLASS and George MACK, both Negroes. These two
Negroes were bad outlaws and they had caused the U.S. Marshals lots of
My first school to go to was old Chikikie. It was an
Indian Mission school and Mary HOTCHINS was the teacher. It was located
south and west of where Stratford, Oklahoma is now, about seven miles east of
Pauls Valley. This school was started in 1885. After the railroad
came through Mary Hotchins started another school at Wynnewood. It was a
Chickasaw Indian school. I boarded at Chikikie, but I did not board at
this school as my mother lived at Cherokee Town. I stayed at home
until they moved most of Cherokee Town to Wynnewood. One building
was sold to the Masonic Lodge and they moved it to Pauls Valley.
mother and step-father moved to Wynnewood.
I herded cattle before I was fifteen years old and
before I was eighteen I was working on the JOHNSON Ranch, known as the figure
8 brand. Montford Johnson was the owner. His range was from
Johnsonville to Silver City. The main headquarters was at Silver City, located
south of where Minco, Oklahoma is now, about five miles on Scherley
Creek. I remember a fight between the Johnson cowboys and the CAMPBELL
cowboys in which one was killed. I didn't take part in the fight.
I was with the chuck wagon at the time.
I was nicknamed
Vinegaroon by the first city marshal at Norman. At that time Norman was
a city of tents and dugouts. The Marshal's name was Tom GRIFFIN.
We had brought about a thousand head of cattle to Norman to ship them.
Five or six cowboys and I were riding down the main street, or the wide place
they called a street, and we met Tom Griffin. I was well acquainted with
Tom so I asked him what was the meanest thing on earth. He said, " I
have been told it was a Vinegaroon", and from that day on I was called
After old Oklahoma came in we were rounding up horses
for the Johnson Ranch and driving them to Silver City. We had lots of
trouble with the new homesteaders. At that time they lived in tents, sod
houses, and dugouts, and they would have small patches in cultivation and they
would have these patches fenced with wire fence. We would round up a
bunch of horses and start them west, and the fences were new to horses
then. They didn't know what a barbwire fence would do to them, and on
coming to some of these fences the horses would go right into them and down
would go the fence and some of our horses would get cut very badly and we
would have sometimes a bad argument with the homesteaders. We couldn't
keep the horses out of the fences. When a bunch of high-strung
horses once get started running nothing can stop them.
We would tell
the homesteaders how sorry we were and we meant it for these homesteaders were
having a hard time trying to make a home for their families without our horses
tearing down their fences and running over their small patches of corn and
I have seen as high as fifty U.S. Marshals at Old
Cherokee Town at one time, and some of them were tough men. When
they went after a man they got him. I have seen them come through there
on their way to Fort Smith, Arkansas with forty or fifty
prisoners. Some of the prisoners would be wounded and they would
haul them in wagons and drive the ones that were able to walk in front of the
wagons like cattle.
I have heard my step-father say that the old building
that he used for a hotel was built sometime in the early fifties, and was used
as a trading place for the Cherokee Indians. There are lots of old
graves up and down the Washita River from where Old Cherokee Crossing was
located. When I was a small boy, I have found human bones around the
river bank. I have been told that there was a band of Mexicans and
Indians camped on the Washita River north of where Old Cherokee Town was years
before we moved there, and I think my step-father said we moved there in 1875.
My step-father was a U.S. Deputy Marshal and an Indian policeman at
After the Santa Fe railroad was built through here,
Montford Johnson moved about 25,000 head of his Durham and Hereford
cattle and 500 saddle horses and about 1000 stock horses to the Cheyenne
Country. I worked at his ranch at Silver City and Johnsonville. There is
an Indian burial ground about seven miles east and a half mile south of Pauls
Valley. When I was going to the Chikikie Mission school this Indian
burial ground was a short way south of this school. Old settlers have
said this burial ground was there as far back as they could remember about
I now live in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.
[COMMENT: Bas Ree
referred to above is Baz "Bass" Reeves]
Submitted to OKGenWeb by
Brenda Choate <firstname.lastname@example.org> November 2000.